English for Speakers of Other Languages

30. Justify & Persuade

Level: Early Advanced/Advanced

Corresponding State Language Forms

Complex sentences with future and conditional.

Complex sentences with varied verb forms and tag questions, idiomatic expressions or embedded clauses.

At the end of this language function, students will be able to...

  • Use complex sentences that express future or conditional statements
  • Use tag questions to emphasize and persuade
  • Use idiomatic expressions to justify actions
  • Use embedded clauses to provide extra information

Sample Language Patterns:

Use complex sentences to express future or conditional statements:
  • It will be ___ ifÖ
  • It would be ___ ifÖ
  • It might work ___ ifÖ
  • If (you, he, she, it , we, they)Ö, ___
  • (Things/it) ___ (might, could, should)Ö
  • The ___ thing you could do isÖ
Use idiomatic expressions to justify actions:
There are numerous amounts of idiomatic expressions, some of which are very useful when trying to persuade or justify with color. For an extensive alphabetized listing of idiomatic expressions go to: http://www.usingenglish.com/links/Idiomatic_Expressions/

Some Examples:
  • As mad as a hatter
  • This simile means that someone is crazy or behaves very strangely. In the past many people who made hats went insane because they had a lot of contact with mercury.
  • At each other's throats
  • If people are at each other's throats, they are fighting, arguing or competing ruthlessly.
  • At odds
  • If you are at odds with someone, you cannot agree with them and argue.
  • At your wit's end
  • If you're at your wit's end, you really don't know what you should do about something, no matter how hard you think about it.
  • Axe to grind
  • If you have an axe to grind with someone or about something, you have a grievance, resentment and you want to get revenge or sort it out. In American English, it is 'ax'.
Use tag questions to emphasize and persuade:

Examples Explanation
Statements Tag
She is nice,
You arenít coming,
We arrived late,
He doesnít like it,
isnít she?
are you?
didnít we?
does he?
A tag question is a statement followed by a short question (a tag). Tag questions are often used in conversations. The speaker expects a yes or no answer.
Examples Explanation
Affirmative Statements Negative Tags
they were at school,
She can come,
I must go,
He has been there,
werenít they?
canít she?
mustnít I?
hasnít he?
The speaker thinks that the answer will probably be yes.
Examples Explanation
Negative Statements Affirmative Tags
He shouldnít drive,
You wonít help,
They didnít stay,
We havenít study
should he?
will you?
did they?
have we?
The speaker thinks that the answer will probably be no.
Some special cases:

I am right, aren't I? aren't I (not amn't I)
You have to go, don't you? you (do) have to go...
I have been answering, haven't I? use first auxiliary
Nothing came in the post, did it? treat statements with nothing, nobody etc like negative statements
Let's go, shall we? let's = let us
Use embedded clauses to provide extra information:
  • In the sentence: "This is the mechanic (who repaired Sharon's car)."
  • "who repaired Sharon's car" is a relative clause (embedded clause). This clause is a sentence that has been "embedded" into another. You could rewrite the sentence as two different sentences.